Wednesday 20th Feb, I managed an early escape from work to travel up to Taunton for a Quantock Orienteers MapRun Event. The event centre was the Car Park of the Master Thatcher. Quantock were offering a 50 min score event with two options. Long used the odd evens format. Start on odds, switch to evens when you want but you can’t count any odds from then on, this was handily annotated on the map using Blue and Red control circles. The second option short, was a straight forward score using all the controls.
Instead of traditional pin punches or electronic punching the event used the MapRun app on a mobile. This was my first experience of using this technology, I downloaded and set it up at the event.
Once registered, I was given a PIN number to access the event on the app, all that was left was make my way to the start. I was accompanied by Jeff Pakes planner and mapper for the event, who gave me the low down on using the app. I decided to carry my phone in my bum bag hoping the beep you receive at a control would be loud enough to hear. As I approached the start, map in hand I was reassured to hear a clear beep, and off I headed. The terrain was mostly an area of housing estates with an extensive network of paths. My strategy was to try and collect all the controls but reassess every 10 mins to see how I was getting on. It’s always nice to find the first control but especially when your phone is acting as control and punching system. Sure enough my first control, a lamppost was there on the ground and as I approached it I was happy to hear a reassuring beep from my phone, first control done. Jeff’s map was great, a really simple map taken from open source data, which he added to with a simple survey. As I carried on getting more familiar with the system, and coming to terms that I wouldn’t see the normal reassuring control flag, just the control feature followed by a reassuring beep, it started to feel more second nature. Occasionally the beep didn’t come when expected, once I had got it wrong, I’d seen a lamppost and ran to it thinking it was the control feature, when it was actually the path junction 10m to my right. Another time I was at the feature, and began scratching my head, another mistake? No just needed to shift 1m and beep goes the phone.
Now I love score events at the best of times, but this terrain, excellent planning and the use of the MapRun app combined for a great informal event. Soon 40 mins had gone by and I was looking for the best route home, I quickly take in two 50 pointers and put my head down and make for the finish. Just a quick run into the pub Car Park over to the finish control and beep, I’d finished - 24 controls/30 visited and a score of 810, 4th overall. I quickly changed and headed into the pub. All that was left was to press the upload button on the app and check the results on your phone. As always it was good to chat to other runners about their run, and checkout out their routes. What was especially nice was to see the organisers and planners in the pub, with the planner not having to go out and collect controls (although I still offered), that’s the real benefit of this system the infrastructure is virtual, so volunteer time is greatly reduced, always a positive thing.
Thank you to Quantock Orienteers for a great event, especially Jeff Pakes, Planner and Roger and Judy Craddock the organisers.
So am I sold on the MapRun app, Yes Yes Yes. I think for local informal events it's a win win situation. I have listed a few Pros and Cons below.
Volunteer time and effort reduced
No control to be stolen or vandalised
Be able to make use of a variety of open public spaces
Simple to use
Excellent for summer series, training or local urban events
Occasionally need to moved around control feature to find the beep
Beep not always loud enough if you are in an area of traffic (would need to check my phone or app settings)
Not sure how good it would be in covered areas, underpasses, tree cover in parks etc (would need to trial)